Social Science and Humanities Courses

An integral part of an undergraduate engineering education involves exposure to the study of the broader contexts within which technology and engineering practice operates. The Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) requirements engage engineering undergraduates in course work that will provide this broad exposure. This includes an extensive array of study areas offered by Penn’s outstanding liberal arts community of scholars, and provides the student with structured opportunities to understand such topics as: Human behavior; civil society; geopolitical phenomena; the creative, artistic, linguistic, philosophical, and symbolic cultural endeavors throughout human history; social, economic, and political conflict; and challenges surrounding global health, poverty, and the inner city.

In the SSH category, a student should choose courses of personal interest which will provide in-depth study (2 or more courses) of at least one subject and which will include several subjects so that reasonably broad insight is achieved in the social and behavioral sciences and in the humanities. Because of the importance of good communication skills to success in all endeavors, each student should seek to enhance these skills by the choice of SSH courses.

For the purposes of planning your Social Science and Humanities courses (SSH), a humanities course or social science course is one within the broad areas of the humanities (including foreign languages) or the social sciences. This definition encompasses such fields of study as (in the humanities) history, English, philosophy, foreign languages, classics, history of art, and (in the social sciences) sociology, psychology, economics, and political science. Your SSH course work must provide both breadth and depth and not be limited to a selection of unrelated introductory courses. Unacceptable for SSH credit are courses that are not about either humanities or social science; for example, courses in the business discipline, military science, any course that is primarily a study of mathematics or a physical science or any course designed primarily to impart skills — such as written or oral communication or computer usage.

The writing courses (WRIT) are categorized as humanities, social science, or free elective based on the department in which the course in offered.

Students interested in the relationships between technology, business and society may choose to substitute up to two of social science and humanities courses with approved courses from the Technology in Business and Society course category.